Affirmative Action Works
Baseball's hiring MMs--minority managers--makes the game look
Maybe you thought Major League Baseball's venerable affirmative
inaction campaign had peaked when National League president
Leonard Coleman, the sport's highest-ranking black executive and
a vocal proponent of minority hiring, announced in September
that he was quitting. But then things got worse. The Tigers
opened the managerial hunting season on Oct. 14 by grabbing
fired Brewers skipper Phil Garner, a white guy fresh off seven
straight losing seasons, without interviewing anyone else.
Detroit's move violated commissioner Bud Selig's stipulation
that teams send him lists of candidates for top-level jobs,
lists featuring somebody other than the usual fat old white
guys. (We're paraphrasing.) While NAACP president Kweisi Mfume
termed Garner's hiring "a slap in the face" and called for a
boycott of Little Caesars pizza--Tigers owner Mike Ilitch's
sideline business--Selig launched an investigation and
reportedly fined Ilitch $250,000.
Next, Rockies owner Jerry McMorris, who made a mistake in 1997
when he fired Don Baylor (a minority manager, or MM), hired
Buddy Bell as Colorado's new skipper despite Bell's .400 winning
percentage with Detroit from '96 to '98. That meant that of 43
managing jobs filled since '93, only one had gone to an MM.
That's one fewer than had gone to Davey Johnson.
But just when it appeared inevitable that the next manager hired
would be Gene Mauch or John McGraw, the Cubs made Baylor their
manager last week. Three days later the Brewers, quasi-owned by
Selig and currently run by his daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb,
entrusted their future to another deserving MM, Davey Lopes,
bumping baseball's MM total to a record five, including the
Expos' Felipe Alou, the Giants' Dusty Baker and the White Sox'
Two new MMs do not a revolution make, but the constant drumbeat
for minority hires over the past decade is finally making a
difference. As of Monday night the Angels were considering
prospective MMs Chris Chambliss, Hal McRae and Willie Randolph
for their managerial vacancy.
Now it's time to address the fact that baseball has no minority
general managers and has had only one--Bob Watson of the Astros
and Yankees--in its history. If owners hire a few MGMs, maybe we
can all eat our pizzas in peace. --Tim Crothers
Without reform, boxing's just the same old con
The news last week--allegations that fighters took dives and
administrators took bribes--wasn't really news at all. Corruption
is presumed in boxing. But the fact that the federal government
indicted four IBF executives for rigging ratings is news. It's
good news. It suggests that the era of winking at boxing's
buccaneering might be over and that confidence in the sport might
someday be restored.
Charges that IBF officials have taken bribes of at least
$338,000 from promoters and managers since the mid-'80s were
last week's headlines, but they've been ringside gossip for more
than a decade. Officials of the IBF and pro boxing's two other
major sanctioning bodies, the WBA and the WBC, approve fights
and prepare the rankings that move selected fighters into
big-money bouts. The rankings of those three organizations have
at times been so bizarre that the only conclusion to draw was
that somebody was on the take.
Now federal prosecutors have set out to prove it, at least with
regard to the IBF. They're particularly interested in the
machinations that gave then IBF heavyweight champ George Foreman
a special exception to fight unranked Axel Schulz in 1995. The
feds say Foreman's camp gave the IBF $100,000 to make the fight,
and that Schulz's handlers ponied up the same amount for a
rematch that never came off. Foreman and his promoter Bob Arum
deny making such payments. Cedric Kushner, Schulz's promoter,
referred questions to his lawyer, who didn't return SI's calls.
The Foreman-Schulz payoffs are the central accusations in the
32-count indictment charging president Bob Lee and three other
IBF executives including his son, Robert Jr., of racketeering
and conspiracy. This isn't the first time Lee's organization has
been accused of rigging rankings. In 1995, after heavyweight
Francois Botha leapfrogged past Michael Moorer in the IBF
ratings for a possible fight with Mike Tyson, Moorer sued the
elder Lee, charging that he had "solicited bribes and/or
extorted monies" in concert with promoter Don King. The IBF
suddenly agreed that Moorer deserved a title fight, and the case
went away. The smell of corruption didn't.
What's the harm in shuffling the rankings? For one thing, it's a
way to fix a fight without making anybody take a dive. "With the
world organizations," says one insider, "it's not mandatory for
a champion to fight the Number 2 guy. If I have a champion and I
want him to fight the least competitive fighter I can get, I
pick somebody who just came into the top 10. On the other hand,
if I'm a manager looking for a big score, I want to move my
fighter into the top 10. If it's known that my guy can't beat
anybody, the champ will probably pick him for his next fight.
For a heavyweight, that's worth at least $300,000, so I'd pay
$25,000 or $50,000 if I had to for the rating."
Last week's charges came on the heels of a Miami Herald story on
fight fixing that quoted six journeymen who said they took falls
against such bigger names as Foreman and Eric (Butterbean) Esch.
The indictments aren't likely to stop with Bob Lee and the IBF.
The government has been pursuing King for years, and after
failing three times to convict him of fraud, the feds are dying
to bring him down. King, who at times has controlled heavyweight
champs in all three organizations, has said he expects to be
indicted. The chance that boxing bigwigs might roll over and
inform on others of their ilk, including King, has created a
near-comical mood of paranoia among the sport's heavy hitters.
The elder Lee says he is "innocent of these outrageous charges."
We'll see. In any case reform in the ring is now in the hands of
the government--which strengthened its position on Monday when
the House passed the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. That's
fine. Boxing has never been able to police itself, and as a
consequence it's the least credible of American sports.
The Wizard From Westwood
In the fall of 1977, his senior year at UCLA, linebacker John
Fowler was the Bruins' fourth-leading tackler. The next spring
he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in biochemistry, and
in June those credentials earned him induction into the GTE
Academic All-America Hall of Fame.
Two months after his induction Fowler was in Turkey, tending to
victims of a devastating Aug. 17 earthquake. Few people were
better qualified for such a task than the 44-year-old Fowler,
who has spent nine years as an emergency medicine instructor at
universities in Turkey and who founded the country's emergency
Football was never his passion. After receiving his bachelor's
degree, Fowler taught junior high school in India for eight
months and then returned to UCLA, where he got his M.D. in 1983.
While finishing his residency in emergency medicine and teaching
at a community hospital in Kentucky, he wrote to foreign medical
schools asking for a job in emergency medicine. To his surprise
a response from Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir, Turkey,
included a date when he could start working. "They were excited
somebody wanted to come," says Fowler, who spoke little Turkish
and had to learn the language on the fly. "Usually, no one in
the U.S. would be interested."
After the quake he saw his work pay off when he met one of his
former students in a makeshift emergency hospital. "She had just
become a certified emergency specialist when the earthquake
hit," Fowler told the Los Angeles Times. "That was great, seeing
her running the emergency department of this temporary hospital."
"There's a lot to be done yet," says Fowler. "But that's the
point--to train people to take my place."
THE $2 MILLION MOM
Puttering Around The House
Between driving her three kids to soccer and baseball practice,
taking an accounting class at the University of Dubuque in her
hometown and keeping a three-bedroom house in order, Kim Haas is
trying to become a millionaire. Haas, a 36-year-old housewife,
will win $2 million--$1 million for herself and $1 million for
charity--if she makes a 10-foot putt on national TV this month.
"I've pushed aside the cleaning a little," she says.
On Nov. 28 at the Westin Innisbrook Resort, Haas will become the
fifth person and the first woman to attempt the seven-figure
putt. No one has made it since Gillette started the putt-off in
1995, but don't bet against Haas. In August, after practicing
for weeks on her off-white living room carpet, she hit a
10-footer for $12,500 in a preliminary contest, then won a
drawing for a shot at the $2 million putt. To prep for that
knee-knocker, Haas, who plays golf about twice a year, has
putted for at least 30 minutes a day at a Dubuque course. She
has also worked on visualization. "I've dreamed about the putt
twice," she says. "Both times it went in."
Scotland and England have treated each other rudely since before
William (Braveheart) Wallace mooned English nobles at the Battle
of Stirling Bridge seven centuries ago. The latest affront came
during ticket sales for this week's second leg of a two-game
playoff between Scotland and England for a spot in the 2000
European soccer championships. To keep a Tartan Army of
hooligans from sweeping southward, the staff at Wembley
Stadium's box office received a crash course in identifying
Scottish surnames and accents--two guidelines by which ticket
buyers could be denied seats. If your name was MacDuff and you
spoke with a burr, you had a tough time getting a ticket even if
you'd been a Londoner for decades. Illegal? Not in Europe, where
soccer officials routinely segregate opposing fans to cut down
on rioting. Despite such efforts, more than 25,000 Scots are
expected at Wembley for the renewal of soccer's Battle of
Britain, the sport's oldest international rivalry.
The Man Who Rocked the Rock
In a boxing week marred by same ol', same ol', the big surprise
came from a bout at which, lo and behold, a fight broke out.
Last Saturday's heavyweight battle between little-known Oleg
Maskaev and title contender Hasim (the Rock) Rahman in Atlantic
City combined the id-stoking drama of Jack Dempsey vs. Luis
Firpo with the ugliness of Riddick Bowe vs. Andrew Golota.
Like Firpo's Dempsey-dropping haymaker in 1923, Maskaev's
overhand right in the eighth round propelled the favored Rahman,
who entered the bout 31-1, clear out of the ring. The
27-year-old Rock crashed through the ropes, across the scorers'
table and onto the floor, taking an HBO monitor with him.
Alternate ref Steve Smoger had barely risen from his ringside
seat to signal the start of the knockdown count when a flying
chair hit him in the head, opening a gash that staggered him.
By the time Maskaev was declared the winner by knockout, a melee
had broken out at ringside. It eventually spilled out onto the
boardwalk, with cops and security guards tussling with fans.
"There had to be 70 people involved," said Sergeant Guy Curcione
of the Atlantic City police. "I saw a woman fainting and a lot of
Maskaev, a native of Kazakhstan, didn't see the postfight fight.
His view was blocked by his entourage, and fresh off the win of
his life, he was in his own world, just glad to be standing. He'd
been losing the bout through seven rounds, but then his trainer,
Bob Jackson, called for a miracle. Says Maskaev, "Bob woke me up.
He said, 'Oleg, can you hear me? Knock him out this round.' I
said, 'I got it.'" Forty seconds into the round, the Rock got it.
At 30, Maskaev (18-2, 13 KOs) is old for a boxer but less punchy
than most fighters his age. He was 24 and living in Moscow when
he knocked out the highly regarded Alex Miroshnichenko to win
his first pro fight. That bout mesmerized Steve Trunov,
Miroshnichenko's co-manager at the time. "I lost half a million
dollars," says Trunov, "but I found Oleg."
In 1995 Maskaev finished his seven-year stint as a lieutenant
and boxer in the Russian army and came with Trunov to the U.S.
He lives with his wife, Sveta, their three daughters and Buddy,
the family Rottweiler, in the three-bedroom house the Maskaevs
own in a quiet Staten Island, N.Y., neighborhood. Oleg can't get
enough of America's Funniest Home Videos. "If you live in
America, be an American," he says.
He has already mastered Lesson 1: Get noticed. Maskaev, who
earned $110,000 last Saturday, can only hope the hurt he put on
Rahman--coupled with his strong showing in a controversial '97
loss to top contender David Tua--lands him another marquee bout.
Reflecting on his Rock-breaking punch, Maskaev says, "I'm
starting to believe I can do something special in the
Big Heart, Busted Knee
When Indiana defensive end Adewale Ogunleye decided last winter
to bypass NFL riches to spend another year with the Hoosiers,
some fans thought he was nuts. The 6'5", 266-pound Ogunleye
(pronounced oh-GOON-lee-uh) had set school records with 26 1/2
sacks and 53 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He was a
projected first- or second-round draft choice. Why stick around
Bloomington? "I wanted to go to a bowl game," he says.
But in the fourth quarter of the Hoosiers' 34-17 win over
Northwestern on Oct. 9, Indiana defensive end Kemp Rasmussen hit
Ogunleye from behind. As his fears congealed in the pain of that
moment, Ogunleye looked up calmly at teammates Jason Czap and
Devin Schaffer. "You know, guys," he said, "that might have been
it. That might have been the one."
He had torn his ACL. Orthopedist James Andrews spent four hours
repairing it in Birmingham last month, but Ogunleye will be
sidelined for at least six months and will be nobody's
first-round pick in April's NFL draft. Still, he says he has no
regrets about passing up last year's draft: "If I had it to do
over again, I would make the same decision." An insurance policy
will pay him more than $1 million if the injury ends his
career--a fraction of what he might have earned in the pros--but
he doesn't plan to make a claim on the policy. "A lot of
athletes have come back from worse," he says. "I will play again."
One bit of unfinished business nags at Ogunleye. "Only teams
that go to bowl games get their pictures up in our stadium," he
says. "I had one friend, Jabar Robinson, who played here for
four years, and he doesn't have his picture up. I didn't want
him to be forgotten. I don't want to be forgotten, either."
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY RANDY DAHLK
COLOR PHOTO: RICHARD MACKSON (BOXING) Axel grease Foreman's camp allegedly paid the IBF $100,000 to sanction a '95 bout with Schulz.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE WACKSMAN
COLOR PHOTO: RICK BOWMER/WASHINGTON POST
FIVE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS: ILLUSTRATIONS BY ROBERT PIERSANTI
COLOR PHOTO: MICHEL PISSOTTE/DPPI
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH
Remember when Ryan Leaf went second behind Peyton Manning in the
1998 NFL draft? "For the next 15 years, he's our man," said
Chargers owner Alex Spanos. Then Leaf bailed on the league's
rookie-orientation meetings. He got benched, got hurt and last
week cussed out general manager Bobby Beathard. San Diego can't
cut him without blowing a salary-cap fuse, so it's stuck with
the $31.25 million bolthead. Can't live with Leaf, can't compost
Amount the British investment bank Morgan Grenfel will spend to
buy up to half the Formula One racing circuit.
Reported percent drop in sales of NBA-licensed merchandise since
Percent of attempts to climb Mount Everest that end in a
Fee that Avalanche assistant coach Bryan Trottier charges for his
$495 Price of a New Year's Eve dinner for two at Shula's
restaurant in Tampa, including a football signed by Don Shula.
Marijuana in a sock belonging to Heat rookie Rodney Buford, who
ran afoul of drug dogs in Toronto. Canadian customs has been
using the dogs on charter flights to crack down on high-end
travelers. Buford wasn't charged, but coach Pat Riley sent him
Temple basketball players, on orders from coach John Chaney. His
new code calls for close-cropped hair and jewelry-free earlobes.
Said Chaney, "Now I'm looking for someone to take those tattoos
Primo Nebiolo, 76, Machiavellian president of track and field's
world governing body, the IAAF. Upon Nebiolo's death, his
countryman Livio Berruti of Italy, the 1960 OIympic 200-meter
champ, said Nebiolo "trampled, corrupted and sullied the
sporting ideals in which I believed."
By PEOPLE magazine, that Saints running back Ricky Williams is
the world's sexiest athlete. "Women lunge at him as if by
catapult," Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard told the magazine.
Twelve members of the Ohio State women's rugby team, who posed
topless for a photo at the Lincoln Memorial. The flashers were
temporarily suspended but weren't arrested, since going topless
isn't illegal in D.C.
Pokemon: The sports series
When it comes to Pokemon cards, you can't catch 'em all before
supplies run out. While you're scouring stores for that last
pack your eight-year-old has gotta have, keep an eye out for
these unofficial additions.
Charlie Hustle Pokemon
Weight 200 pounds
The Opposing Pokemon is upstaged
Double or nuttin'
Gold shoots from Peat's pockets
Weight 230 pounds
Does 20 damage to own reputation
The Offending Pokemon is red-shirted
Weight 162 pounds
The Opposing Pokemon is frozen
Does 20 damage with ski pole
Weight 123 pounds
Weakens male Pokemon's knees
Weakens hockeymon Sergei Fedorov
Weight 195 pounds
Leaves Opposing Pokemon in dust
Weakens league touchdown-dance policy
Chicken of the Sky
Speed skydiving is a game of chicken with the earth, with
daredevils falling headfirst to within five seconds of splatting
on the ground before pulling the rip cords on their chutes. The
idea is to stay as streamlined as a bullet: By minimizing air
resistance in free fall, divers such as 29-year-old Mark Brooke
(right) can shoot far past 110 mph, the average terminal
velocity for a free-falling human body, to more than 300 mph, a
clip at which they create an otherworldly hum as they plunge
earthward. From Nov. 21 to 27 Brooke, who has made more than 150
jumps and claims the world record of 332 mph, will put on his
skintight diving suit and drop in on the World Speed Skydiving
Competition in DeLand, Fla.
WORD FOR WORD
Message in a Bottle
"What you are as an individual is private and personal.... That
other people should be able to know...without your volition,
what you've taken into your body, what you've eaten or what
you've drunk or what you've had, is wrong. It's part of your
makeup. It seems to me to be a giveaway of your own personal
rights and freedoms. I think the framers of our Constitution
would stand right behind me in all these things because this is
another form of making us toe the line or get behind the line."
--Lakers coach Phil Jackson at an NBA coaches' meeting, on the
league's testing coaches for drugs
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
An Ontario court ruled that a man convicted of sexual assault
won't have to do jail time partly because the resulting
financial hardship would keep his son from playing hockey.
Of 43 jobs filled since '93, only one had gone to a minority
manager--one fewer than had gone to Davey Johnson.
They Said It
Florida State football coach, on his players' recent legal
problems: "When it rains, it snows."